Donald Trump issued his first State Of The Union address tonight, somehow managing to clear the extraordinarily low bar he’s successfully convinced the nation to lower its expectations to accept, in so far as he didn’t, like, burn Hillary Clinton in effigy from the center of the House or call directly for Robert Mueller’s head. Still, that’s just our assessment from watching the thing from afar. What’s the read from someone who (hypothetically) knows Trump a little better?
That’s presumably at least part of what Jimmy Kimmel was hoping to find out when he booked adult film actress Stephanie Clifford—a.k.a. Stormy Daniels—for tonight’s edition of his ABC talk show. The Wall Street Journal has repeatedly suggested that Daniels had an affair with Trump several years ago and that she was recently paid $130,000 to stay quiet about their relationship. Indeed, she reportedly issued a statement earlier today, re-asserting that no such affair happened, which didn’t stop her from joking with Kimmel in a pre-taped bit, holding up a gagged doll of herself with a knowing look at the camera.
In the interview itself, Daniels spoke, like, well… someone talking under a pretty elaborate non-disclosure agreement, while still doing her damnedest to be an engaging talk show guest. For 11 or so minutes, Kimmel’s show basically became an elaborate, fairly gross game of charades, as he attempted to find some way to get the actress to confirm or deny that she’d ever slept with Trump. Kimmel’s tactics included reading from an interview Daniels supposedly gave to In Touch magazine—one which she’s said takes at least some of her words out of context—showing signed pictures from her adult film career, and even busting out a “Stormy Daniels puppet” for an uncomfortable game of Never Have I Ever.
Through it all, Daniels came off as smart, funny, and a little uncomfortable. Her most open answers came when talking about the ways the current attention on her, and the rumors people have been making up about her online, have affected her family. The more Kimmel pushed, though, the more he came off as maybe a tad too interested in Donald Trump’s sex life, given that there’s presumably no legal way Daniels would actually be allowed to let anything slip. (Also, while we’re not exactly racing to defend him, it’s not like “cheating on his wife while being a reality TV host” is anywhere even remotely near the top of Trump’s list of public offenses at this point.) The nadir might have come when Kimmel busted out a bushel of carrots and asked Daniels—thankfully evasive—to pick one “apropos of nothing”; not to throw stones, but publicly speculating on the size of someone’s dick feels kind of like something Donald Trump would do.